A superb spirited and no less skillful effort from the Roscommon Ladies Footballers, sponsored by Ward Bros saw the visitors defeat Leitrim by 3-10 to 3-06 in Ballinamore on Saturday afternoon.
This result also has a bearing on the Roscommon Ladies league position as it now puts them in second position which leaves them in pole position to make it to the semi-finals and keeps alive the possibility of promotion to division two with two games still remaining against Limerick and Wexford.
Roscommon burst into life right from the throw in when newly announced university all-star Joanne Cregg burst through after 40 seconds to crash home a terrific goal for the visitors. This was followed up by two quick points in succession from jenny Higgins (1 min) and Cregg (5 min) left the home side in shock as the Roscommon lead by five. Indeed it was to get worse for the home side as Roscommon were awarded a penalty which captain Natalie McHugh dispatched brilliantly to leave the visitors in a commanding 2-2 to no score lead after 12 mins. Leitrim finally awoke from their slumber when they goaled quite fortunately directly from a free in the 14th minute from full forward Ailbhe Clancy. The next ten minutes or so were quite frantic as the home side tried in vain to get back into the match but some ware ward shooting and some stout defending from Roscommon kept them at bay. Indeed it was Michael Finnernan’s charges who scored next with another goal from Rachel Fitzmaurice in the 23rd minute and when full forward McHugh pointed again to leave the Ros girls in complete charge with 25 minutes gone. But Leitrim finally got a grip on proceedings particularly in midfield and began to charge forward. This resulted in three unanswered points in a row from in the 26th, 27th and 28th minutes from Ailish O’ Dowd and Dearbhile Beirne (twice). To leave six in it at the break with Roscommon leading by 3-03 to 1-03. It must also be noted that the visitors were playing with the aid of a strong breeze in the first half.
Leitrim picked off where they left off at the beginning of the second half when the rolled of two points in a row from Clancy and Michelle Heslin to narrow the cap to four points. But Roscommon rallied with points of their own from Cregg (35min), Gillian Dufficy (42min), McHugh again and sub Caoilionn Beirne to leave them still in control. Leitrim added another point from a Clancy free in the 47minute before their persistence finally brought some reward when they got their second goal in the 51st minute from Laura O’ Dowd to leave just four points between them. There was no need for panic yet in the Roscommon ranks but they did retreat in defence a little and this invited Leitrim onto them who capitalised on it when they goaled again through O Dowd to suddenly leave just one point between the sides, a position Roscommon should never have found themselves in but nonetheless it was the case with just eight minutes remaining.
What happened next will surely be a turning point for Finnernan’s charges as rather than rolling over the actually turned the game around and showed tremendous fight and character in the remaining ten minutes to finish out the game in the ascendancy with three unanswered points from sub Laura Fleming (two) and a Mchugh free. Indeed the introduction of Fleming had a big bearing on the game as she influenced a lot of Roscommon’s play in the last 20 minutes and also chipped in with two vital points. The Rossies held out for a vital victory on a score line of 3-10 to 3-06.
Roscommon: 1. Karin Roddy 2. Amanda McLoone 3. Caroline Gunning 4. Honor Ennis 5. Aisling MacAuliffe 6. Bronagh McHugh 7. Sinéad Kenny 8. Joanne Cregg (1-3), 9. Tara Taylor 10. Alice Kelly. 11. Gillian Dufficy(0-1), 12. Jenny Higgins (0-1), 13. Rebecca Finan, 14. Natalie McHugh (1-2), and 15. Rachael Fitzmaurice (1-0).
Subs: Nicole Dolan for Ennis (25min), Caoilionn Beirne (0-1) for MacAuliffe (HT), Laura Fleming (0-2) for Taylor (36min), Martina Freyne for Finan (44min), Eillish Finnan for C Beirne (53min), and Rachel Brady for Fitzmaurice (59min).
Leitrim: Michelle Guckian, Melissa Hewitt, Clare Owens, Roisin McHugh, Sinead Tighe, Aine Heslin, Ailish O Dowd (0-1), Laura O Dowd (2-0), Aoife McWeeney, Dearbhile Beirne (0-2), Michelle Heslin(0-1), Kiara keegan, Ailbhe Clancy (1-2) and Carla LeGuen.
Subs: Eimhin Quinn for Tighe (12min), Kirby Kilgunn for McWeeney (22min), Roisin Fowley for A Hesilin (22min), Bronagh O Rourke for M Hesilin (38min), Aisling Quinn for Hewitt (58min) and Stephanie Reynolds for Clancy (59min).
The introduction of sub Laura Fleming. The St Ciarans girl had a major bearing on the game as she won key possession in the back line and also chipped in with two crucial points.
What’s next? As stated the Roscommon ladies take on Shannonsiders Limerick next Saturday afternoon where a win will guarantee a semi-final spot.
Player of the match:
Joanne Cregg, the Michael Glavey’s girl capped a special week with a very gritty performance in the middle of the field and also chipped in with a goal and two points. Also on top form for Roscommon were Jenny Higgins, Sinead Kenny and Natalie McHugh.
Turning point: Joanne Cregg’s point from play on 40 minutes just when the home side had reduced Roscommon’s lead to one point. It gave the Ros girls the breathing space the needed and further points were added to relieve the pressure.
Big congratulations to Joanne Cregg and Rochelle Mullaney who were named on the higher education collages all-star team and rising stars teams respectively last weekend. A tremendous achievement for the girls. Joanne from Michael Glavey’s was an O’Connor Cup winner with University Limerick and Rochelle from Kilbride was a Langan Cup winner with GMIT.